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Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Update February 1 - 15, 2003
February 20, 2003
This is a brief summary of current information about the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program in Arizona and New Mexico. Additional information can be obtained by calling (505) 248-6652 or (928) 367-4281 or by visiting our web site, http://mexicanwolf.fws.gov. Call toll-free at (888) 459-9653 to report suspected livestock depredations, incidents of take or harassment of wolves, or wolf sightings. The reintroduction is a multi-agency cooperative effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGF), New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMGF), USDA-Wildlife Services (USDA-WS), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the Turner Endangered Species Fund (TESF), and the White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT).
Numbering System: Mexican wolves are given an identification number recorded in an official studbook that tracks the history of all known Mexican wolves. Capital letters (M = Male, F = Female) preceding the number indicate adult animals 18 months or older. Lower case letters (m = male, f = female) indicate sub-adults (younger than 18 months) or pups. Capital letter “A” preceding the letter and number indicate alpha wolves.
CURRENT POPULATION STATUS The current Mexican wolf population includes 24 radio collared wolves representing 8 packs and 2 lone or dispersing wolves. Based on other data from the field (sightings, tracks, etc.) we believe there is a minimum of 16 additional wolves currently surviving. This does not take into account fate unknown wolves (i.e. pups released prior to 2002 without radio collars, pups born in the wild prior to 2002 that have not been captured/ radio collared, and wolves whose radio collars have gone off the air that may still be free-ranging). WOLF PACK NEWSBluestem Pack (AM507, AF521, M639): Arizona The Bluestem pack consists of the alpha pair, M639, plus up to four un-collared pups. They have been located in Centerfire Creek northwest of PS Knoll. Since M639's re-release on January 30 near Poll Knoll, he has been located south of Vernon. Most recently, he has been located in Vernon Creek, near Coon Mountain.
Saddle Pack (AM574, AF510): Arizona The Saddle pack consists of the alpha pair; no other wolves are known to be associated with the pack. The pair has been located on top of the Mogollon Rim just east of Baldy Bill Point.
Hawks Nest Pack (AM619, AF486): Arizona The Hawk’s Nest pack consists of the alpha pair plus up to three un-collared pups. They have been located northwest of Crosby Crossing as well as southeast of Three Forks.
Bonito Creek Pack (AF587, M794): Arizona The Bonito Creek pack consists of the alpha pair plus up to three un-collared pups. The pair has been located northeast of Upper Corn Tank.
Cienega Pack (AM194, AF487, m795, m796): Arizona The Cienega pack consists of the alpha pair, pups m795 and m796, plus two un-collared wolves (1 pup and 1 yearling). The pack has been located north of the Red Hill Road. On February 13, non-project personnel witnessed four wolves from the pack chasing a herd of elk through an open valley and then attacking a young elk. They were then seen on several occasions over a 2 day period feeding on the kill. Project personnel observed three wolves, one of which was un-collared, on February 15 near the kill.
Francisco Pack (AM509, AF511, f797, m798, f799, m801): Arizona The Francisco pack consists of the alpha pair, four collared pups, and two un-collared wolves. The pack has been located northeast of the Four Drag Ranch. Pup f797 has been located northwest of Willow Mountain on the San Carlos Apache Reservation. The pack has also been located south of BS Tank, near BS Gap, and east of Malay Gap on the San Carlos Apache Reservation.
Project personnel are still attempting to trap and remove the pack from the reservation at the tribe’s request. No wolves were captured during this reporting period.
Gapiwi Pack (AM584, AF624): New Mexico The Gapiwi pack consists of the alpha pair and possibly one un-collared pup. The pair has been located northeast of Loco Mountain.
Luna Pack (AM583, AF562): New Mexico The Luna pack consists of the alpha pair plus up to two un-collared pups. The pair has been located south-southwest of Cub Mountain. On February 15, project personnel found an adult cow elk that had been killed by the wolves. There were numerous wolf tracks but it was impossible to tell how many wolves were with the pack. However, a short distance from the carcass, three beds that the wolves had recently used were found.
Dispersal Wolves ( F644) F644, previously associated with the Francisco pack, has been located west of Greens Peak. Additionally, an un-collared wolf has been observed several times by project personnel near Holly Lake, AZ in the same general area as F644. The pack origin of this wolf is unknown.
FATE UNKNOWN M555 (Gavilan Pack – last signal 02/12/00) M627 (Pipestem Pack – last signal 07/02/00) F189 (Mule Pack – last signal 02/02/01) F127 (Hawk’s Nest Pack - slipped out of radio collar; last seen 9/19/98) F579 (Mule Pack un-collared pup released 5/24/99) M581 (Mule Pack un-collared pup released 5/24/99) M586 (Gavilan Pack un-collared pup released 5/22/99) M641 (Francisco Pack un-collared pup released 7/15/00) M642 (Francisco Pack un-collared pup released 7/15/00) M643 (Francisco Pack un-collared pup released 7/15/00) M678 (Lupine Pack un-collared pup released 6/20/01) F679 (Lupine Pack un-collared pup released 6/20/01) M680 (Lupine Pack un-collared pup released 6/20/01) Three un-collared Hawk’s Nest pups (sexes unknown) released 6/3/99 m754 (Bluestem Pack un-collared pup released 6/11/02; sighting 1/28/03 indicates at least 4 of the 5 pups are still with the pack) m755 (Bluestem Pack un-collared pup released 6/11/02; sighting 1/28/03 indicates at least 4 of the 5 pups are still with the pack) m756 (Bluestem Pack un-collared pup released 6/11/02; sighting 1/28/03 indicates at least 4 of the 5 pups are still with the pack) f757 (Bluestem Pack un-collared pup released 6/11/02; sighting 1/28/03 indicates at least 4 of the 5 pups are still with the pack) f758 (Bluestem Pack un-collared pup released 6/11/02; sighting 1/28/03 indicates at least 4 of the 5 pups are still with the pack) F621 (Cienega Pack – last signal 11/19/02)
CAPTIVE MANAGEMENT On February 3, several wolf pairs at the Sevilleta wolf management facility were separated to prevent breeding.
COMMUNICATION AND COORDINATION On February 3 - 4, cooperators in the Mexican wolf project (USFWS, AZGF, NMGF, USFS, USDA-WS, and WMAT) met in Albuquerque to discuss the new organization of the Mexican wolf project under a State-led effort. On February 6 - 8, Paul Overy, AZGF gave a project update at the Wildlife Society Meeting in Gallup, NM. Additionally, Dan Groebner, AZGF gave a presentation regarding the State’s involvement in the project at the same meeting.
On February 7 - 8, John Oakleaf and Dan Stark, USFWS gave presentations at the Leopold Forum: El Lobo, in Las Cruces, NM. The purpose of the forum was to bring together people from diverse perspectives to discuss environmental history and policy, in an effort to illuminate the complex social, ecological, and ethical issues surrounding the reintroduction of the Mexican wolf.
The Interagency Management Advisory Group (IMAG) met in Clifton, AZ on February 13 to discuss the new organization of the Mexican wolf project under a State-led effort and to gather input as to how the Mexican wolf project can better obtain stakeholder input.
On February 12, Alan Armistead, USDA-WS, gave a presentation to the San Carlos Cattle Association on wolf damage identification. Additionally, Scotty Johnson of Defenders of Wildlife spoke about cattle compensation. Twenty people were present along with Dave Bergman, also of Wildlife Services; Shawna Nelson, AZGF; Harrison Talga, Ex-president of San Carlos Cattle Association; Steve Titla, Tribal Attorney; Theresa Goseyun, Range Technician; and Clark Richens, Bureau of Indian Affairs.
INCIDENTS On February 8, project personnel were notified of a dead heifer at Grapevine Tank on the San Carlos Reservation. Wildlife Services investigated and determined it to be a possible wolf kill but since the carcass had already been dead 7 - 10 days, it was difficult to determine the cause of death. If wolves were responsible, the most likely pack involved would have been the Francisco pack.
PERSONNEL Nothing to report.
LITIGATION Nothing to report.
REWARDS OFFERED The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the conviction of the individual or individuals responsible for the shooting deaths of Mexican gray wolves. An additional $10,000 is being offered by the Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife ($5,000 each). Investigations into the following illegal killings are ongoing:
∙ Campbell Blue alpha female, AF174, was shot on August 7, 1998, in the Williams Valley area near Alpine, Arizona. ∙ Hawk’s Nest male, m532, was found dead from gunshot wounds near the Arizona/New Mexico state line on November 7, 1998. ∙ Hawk’s Nest male, m531, was found dead from gunshot wounds on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation on November 23, 1998. ∙ Francisco yearling male, m590, was found dead from gunshot wounds on December 18, 2000 approximately ½ mile north of Highway 12 in the Apache National Forest’s Divide wood cutting area near Aragon, New Mexico. ∙ Saddle Pack yearling female, f645, was found dead from gunshot wounds on November 5, 2001 near Forest Road 117, south of Highway 60, in the Greens Peak area near Vernon, Arizona. ∙ The Lupine Pack alpha female, AF169, was found dead from gunshot wounds on November 15, 2001 near Maverick Mountain on the White Mountain Apache Reservation. ∙ Lupine yearling male, m630, was found dead from gunshot wounds December 3, 2001, 18 miles northwest of Springerville, south of Highway 60 in Apache County, Arizona. ∙ Lupine yearling F634 was found dead from gunshot wounds on December 7, 2001at the Woods Canyon Lake area in Arizona. ∙ Bonito Creek AM674 was found dead from gunshot wounds on October 22, 2002 on the White Mountain Apache Reservation near Loafer Cienega. ∙ Saddle Pack F646was found dead from gunshot wounds in Arizona on December 3, 2002 near the 25 Road and Highway 191.
Individuals with information they believe may be helpful should call one of these agencies: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agents in Mesa, AZ at (480) 967-7900 or Pinetop at (928) 367-5689; the White Mountain Apache Tribe at (928) 338-1023 or (928) 338-4385; Arizona Game and Fish Operation Game Thief at 1-800-352-0700; or New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Operation Game Thief at 1-800-432-4263.
The killing of a Mexican gray wolf is a violation of Federal and State’s of Arizona and New Mexico laws. Violations of the Federal Endangered Species Act can invoke criminal penalties of up to $25,000 and /or six months in jail, or a civic penalty of up to $10,000.
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